Steps agreed to lower Jerusalem tension: Kerry

Kerry held a three-way meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah and Israeli PM in Amman

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Israelis and Palestinians agreed on Thursday to take steps to lower tensions in Jerusalem, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said, following a meeting in Jordan’s capital Amman.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier held talks in Jordan.

The three-way meeting took place at King Abdullah II’s palace in Amman and followed discussion between Kerry and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas.

Kerry said "firm commitments" had been made to maintain the status quo at holy sites in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

He said Israel and Jordan, which has custodial rights at the Al-Aqsa mosque in the Holy City, had also agreed to take steps to "de-escalate the situation" in Jerusalem and to "restore confidence."

Earlier, Abdullah accused Israel of “repeated attacks” on holy sites in Jerusalem and said they must stop.

Unrest has flared in the past few weeks over Jerusalem’s most sacred and politically sensitive site, revered by Muslims as Noble Sanctuary.

Kerry, who added stop in Amman to the end of a trip to Europe, China and other Middle Eastern cities, conferred in Amman earlier on Thursday with the Jordanian monarch, who has stewardship over the al-Aqsa compound, and with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

A palace statement quoted Abdullah as telling Kerry: “Israel must end its unilateral steps and its repeated attacks on the holy sanctities in city of Jerusalem and especially those that target the Noble Sanctuary and the Aqsa mosque.”

Jordan last week recalled its ambassador to Israel in protest, the first time it had done so since the two countries signed a peace treaty in 1994.

Netanyahu’s visit to Amman will be his first since January. His office declined comment on the meeting.

[With Reuters and AFP]

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